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Last Updated: Friday, 31 March 2006, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
Schroeder job brings court case
By Ray Furlong
BBC News, Berlin

Gerhard Schroeder at HQ of Russian gas giant Gazprom
Mr Schroeder will earn 250,000 euros (174,000) annually
A court hearing is expected in Germany over the decision of former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to work for a gas pipeline consortium.

On Thursday Mr Schroeder began work as head of the consortium's supervisory board. The undersea Baltic pipeline will bring Russian gas to Germany.

Mr Schroeder is involved in a legal row over his new job with Free Democrats Party leader Guido Westerwelle.

Mr Westerwelle is challenging a court injunction over remarks he made.

Mr Westerwelle had questioned the propriety of Mr Schroeder's new job.

German media say Mr Schroeder destroyed his own reputation by appearing to profit personally from one of his last political decisions - a deal with Russia's President Vladimir Putin to build the pipeline.

But Mr Schroeder insists he did nothing wrong, and in this case appears to have decided that the criticism amounts to defamation.

Mr Westerwelle is challenging a court ruling against him, claiming that his freedom of expression is being infringed.

However the court decides, there will clearly be no love lost between the two men, and the pipeline will remain just as controversial.

When Mr Schroeder started his new job on Thursday, the prime ministers of Poland and Estonia once again strongly criticised the project, which they feel was conceived to sideline them.


SEE ALSO:
'No cabinet role' for Schroeder
12 Oct 05 |  Europe
Gazprom opens doors to foreigners
24 Jun 05 |  Business


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